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We’re quickly making our way toward the Annual Enrollment Period for 2015, which begins November 15, 2014. The Annual Enrollment Period (which you might hear referred to by its acronym: AEP) is the once-a-year window when you can renew, update, make changes to, or sign up for an Affordable Care Act (ACA) plan. Otherwise, you can’t make changes unless you have a life event that qualifies you for a Special Enrollment Period (1).

It’s important to know that even if you intend to keep the same plan you had last year, you may still have a little work to do.

But don’t worry. That’s why we created Blue Map.

The first step is clicking here to find out what to do next.

What’s Blue Map?  It’s a tool we’ve created especially for our members who purchase individual plans – that means you don’t receive health insurance through an employer and people who aren’t enrolled in Medicare.

So who needs Blue Map?  there are a couple of different groups of people who’ll find it particularly useful in understanding their next steps. Your next steps are based on several different factors, andBlue Map will help you identify your situation.

 

People With Grandfathered Plans

If your health plan was in place on March 23, 2010 and you haven’t made changes to it, you have a Grandfathered Plan.

Grandfathered Plans are exempt from many ACA requirements.

You have the option to change to an ACA plan, if you like. But remember: once you give up your grandfathered plan, you can’t get it back. Be sure to carefully consider the costs and benefits of your grandfathered plan and the available ACA plans before making a decision.

You’ll have until December 15 to make changes – including some limited changes that won’t affect your status – for effective start date of January 1.  Visit Blue Map to learn more.

 

People With Transitional Plans

If you purchased a health plan between March 24, 2010 and Oct. 1, 2013, you probably have a transitional plan. These are plans that were scheduled to be canceled on Jan. 1, 2014 because they didn’t meet the requirements of the ACA. The administration announced late last year that these plans could be continued for up to two additional years. As with Grandfathered Plans, if you’re happy with your plan you will be automatically renewed. But if you’d like to compare your options and see if you might qualify for a subsidy to purchase an ACA plan, we can help. Reach out to us at Member Services at http://mybcbsnc.com and we’ll guide you through the process.

Remember, a new plan may cost more than your current plan, even with subsidies. Once you leave your plan, you won’t be able to go back, so choose carefully.

Just like with Grandfathered Plans, you’ll have until December 15 to make changes for effective start date of January 1.  Visit Blue Map to learn more.

 

People With ACA/Subsidized Plans

Subsidized(1) ACA plans include many of those purchased on the Health Insurance Marketplace for 2014. In this case it’s important that you ask some key questions before making decisions for 2015. For example, you’ll want to consider how much you want to pay out-of-pocket and consider the size of your network.

As with every year, you may see an increase in what you pay each month for your current plan – this happens for a variety of reasons, including the rising cost of services and your age. If you like your plan you’ll be automatically renewed – but you still need to visit the Marketplace and update your subsidy. If you don’t, you might not receive as much subsidy as you’re entitled to and could pay more than necessary for your health plan.  When making decisions about your plan, you’ll need to take a variety of things into consideration—including the size of your network, out-of-pocket costs, and overall monthly premiums.

As with other plans, you have until December 15 to make changes and explore plan options for effective start date of January 1.  Visit Blue Map to learn more.

 

People with ACA/Non-Subsidized Plans

If you purchased a plan on or off the Health Insurance Marketplace last year but did not receive a subsidy, there are a few things to know. First, you may see an increase in what you pay each month for your current plan – this changes from year to year, and happens for a variety of reasons, including the rising cost of services and your age.

If you like your plan, you’ll automatically be renewed. However, if you’d like to make changes, see if you may qualify for a subsidy1, or are just curious as to what our other plans offer, you can visit Member Services at mybcbsnc.com. When making decisions about your plan, you’ll need to take a variety of things into consideration—including the size of your network, out-of-pocket costs, and overall monthly premiums.        

Here are some key dates to remember. As always, you can give us a call or contact your agent whenever you have questions. We’re here to help! Together we’ll take it step by step.

 

KEY DATES TO REMEMBER:

  • Late Oct.-Early Nov.: You’ll receive information about your 2015 rate and any other changes to your benefits.
  • Nov. 15, 2014:  Annual Enrollment Period begins. This is the time (once a year) that you can make changes to your plan and update your subsidy amount (if applicable).
  • Dec. 15, 2014: Deadline to make changes to your plan and update your subsidy amount (if applicable) to maintain coverage beginning Jan. 1.
  • Jan. 1, 2015: Your coverage and new rate for your 2015 plan begins.
  • Feb. 15, 2015: This is the last day you can make changes to your plan and update your subsidy amount (if applicable) before the end of the Annual Enrollment Period.

Have more questions? Visit Blue Map.

(1)  Actual subsidy eligibility and amounts can only be determined by the federal government. See www.healthcare.gov for more details.

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About Natania Barron

Natania Barron is a social media specialist at BCBSNC, a newbie runner, a healthy food nut, and a mother of two. She's passionate about connecting with consumers through social media and helping to deliver a personal, meaningful experience online.

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